24 SEPTEMBER 1988, Page 27

Competition Carping

Sir: Your Competition no. 1540 asked for 'a paragraph, consisting of one sentence of about 150 words, from an early chapter of an imaginary, old-fashioned, egotistical autobiography' — a description which so exactly fits Sir Henry Howarth Bashford's Augustus Carp, Esq., by Himself that I was convinced that that book was the model that 'Jaspistos' had in mind in setting the competition. Whilst realising that one did not have to keep to that actual book, I thought it would be an amusing challenge to look for a suitable, self-contained extract from it of the right length and rc-write it in a single sentence as requilLA. 'this I did, and was rather pleased with the smooth, unforced result.

To make it clear that this was what I had done, I headed my entry 'Augustus Carp, Esq., by Himself (Acknowledgments to Sir Henry Howarth Bashford)'. Imagine my horror, then, when I saw my entry given pride of place in the published report of the competition but with the heading omitted — thus giving the liiiptclull to any fan of Augustus Carp that I was guilty of bare- faced plagiarism.

As it is apparent that it was not for the smoothness and ingenuity of my adapta- tion that 'Jaspistos' awarded me a share of the prize-money plus the week's bonus, but for Bashford's own Lik;dtivity, I am, need- less less to say, not either of the prizes, and I trust that the Spectator will use them to augment the available loot when next a competition entry is deserving of extra reward.

Barbara Smoker

6 Stanstead Grove, London SE6